By Jim Calfa: In bad news for the February 5th Top Rank card, former two-division world champion Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza is ill and will need his headliner fight against former WBC/WBO 140-lb champion Jose Ramirez to be moved to March 4th. The venue for the contest is the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, and it’ll be shown on the ESPN+ app.
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger is reporting the illness for ‘Sniper’ Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs), but it’s unclear at this point if the 32-year-old Puerto Rican native has COVID 19.
If so, it’s difficult to know for sure whether he’ll be healthy enough to return to the ring in two months to reschedule his fight with Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs).
When Pedraza does come back, he needs to make sure that he’s at 100%, as we’ve recently seen what fighters look like when they come back from a nasty illness.
Pedraza has won his last three fights since losing to slugger Jose Zepeda by a 10 round unanimous decision in his first fight at light welterweight in September 2019.
In hindsight, you’ve got to question the logic of Pedraza to take on a puncher like Zepeda in his first match in the 140-lb division rather than a softer touch to get acclimated to the weight class.
Still, Pedraza put in a good showing and made it challenging for Zepeda to earn his 10 round decision.
Ramirez, 29, lost his WBC/WBO 140-lb titles last year in an undisputed match against IBF/WBA champion Josh Taylor by a 12 round unanimous decision on May 22nd in Las Vegas. The difference in the fight was the two knockdowns that the Scottish fighter Taylor scored in rounds six and seven.
Taylor took advantage of Ramirez’s habit of lowering his guard when the referee would break them. Twice, Ramirez nailed an unprepared Ramirez when they were breaking, and he put him down.
It looked sneaky on Taylor’s part, but it’s Ramirez’s fault for not learning to protect himself after the first time he was dropped.
Ramirez was supposed to have been moving up to 147 lb division to go after bigger fights, but it appears he’s had second thoughts about doing so.
The Ramirez vs. Pedraza postponement is potentially good news for the February 5th comeback fight between former WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ and former WBA 140-lb champion Mario Barrios on FOX PPV.
With Ramirez-Pedraza being moved off the February 5th date, it’s less competition for the Thurman-Barrios PPV card.
Boxing fans have been grumbling about ‘One Time’ Thurman’s fight against the recently knocked out Barrios not worthy of being sold on PPV.
Now with fans no longer having the option of watching the Ramirez vs. Pedraza on ESPN+ on the February 5th date, it’s good news for Thurman, who arguably needs fights to fall out to increase the buy rate for his battle against Barrios.